History/News/Commentary from K. Scott Teeters

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ZORA ARKUS-DUNTOV LIVES… On Facebook!!!

Dateline: 8.16.11
Bentley Publishing keeps the Duntov legend alive in the world of Social Media – Facebook!
The other day while I was looking for the Wikipedia link for “Zora Arkus-Duntov” in Google, I noticed an interesting link. I said to myself, out loud, “What? Zora’s on Facebook???” Obviously Zora didn’t create his own Facebook page, Bentley Publishing, the publishers of his biography, “Zora Arkus-Duntov – The Legend Behind Corvette” by Jerry Burton created the page. If you’re a Duntov fan, this is a delight! The Facebook page is lots or comments, compliments, and photos – LOTS of photos that I’ve never seen before and I’ve been following this man for a long time. To check out the Duntov Facebook page, CLICK HERE.

If you haven’t read Jerry Burton’s Duntov book, READ IT! You’re in for a treat. Some people really are larger than Life. People such as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery, Elvis Presley, and many others, just seemed to shine brighter than most. They’re just “people” with the same foibles and shortcomings as the rest of us. They just do extraordinary things and have an unusual exuberance for Life that shines through their life’s work.

Burton’s book lays it all out: Zora the dare devil. Zora the race car builder and driver. Zora the corporate man. Zora the backdoor man. Zora the rake. Zora the corporate Robin Hood, and more. I could not put the book down. When I was finished, all I could say was, “WOW! What’a life!”

I’d like to share here is a Duntov story from my youth. I got the Corvette bug when I was 11 years old in 1965. Over the next few years I built every model car kit and read every magazine I could get my hands on. Car Life, Hot Rod, and Car & Driver is where I learned about Duntov. I thought, “Who is this COOL old guy?” he kind of reminded me of one of my grandfathers.

Duntov loved the limelight and was probably the most "out front" executive at GM.

I wanted to know everything I could about Corvettes, so I wrote Dr. Duntov a letter when I was around 12. I don’t exactly remember what I wrote, but I think I was asking for detail specifications. A few months later, a 9×12 envelope came addressed to me from “CHEVROLET.” It wasn’t from Zora and unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to the letter. But I do recall what else was included. There was an AMA set of General Specifications of the Corvette. Sorry, I don’t recall the year, maybe ‘68 or ‘69. Plus, several issues of “Corvette News” magazine. (One of the many super cool things I’d learned about buying a Corvette was that owners got a free “Corvette only” magazine.) And it gets better. The letter said that they were putting my name on the copy list for Corvette News. So for several years, I was getting Corvette News and I didn’t even have a driver’s license yet! I’d show the latest issues to my car pals and they’d say, “HOW’D YOU GET THAT, Man?!?” It was all, a lot of fun.

Zora died in 1996 at the age of 86 on April 21, 1996. Perhaps he got to see a preproduction ‘97 C5 Corvette before he died, I don’t know. Unfortunately, he did not get to see the C5-R factory racing team in action, let alone seven first place class wins at Le Mans and the magnificent Z06 and C6 ZR1s. He may or may not have been active with the internet and blogging hadn’t yet caught on before he passed. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see the Corvette really blossom.

Here's Zora in his favorite business attire - his racing suit. Elfie Duntov was a dancer with the Bluebell Girls, a dancing troupe under the famous Folies Bergere. No, she didn't dance topless.

No Zora Arkus-Duntov didn’t invent the Corvette (he thought the Motorama Corvette was the most beautiful car he’s ever seen), he didn’t style the Corvette (truth be told, if Zora had his way, the Corvette would have looked more like a Porsche!), and he didn’t personally design every detail of every performance part of the Corvette. No, Zora brought an unbridled passion for performance He was so excited about performance that he got those that worked with him excited. It was explained in Burton’s book that Zora managed with passion and excitement. he worked “with” people, they didn’t work “for” him.

He put the smoke behind the tires, he put hair on the Corvette’s chest, and he turned a lovely little boulevard cruiser into a Marlon Brando street brawler. Had there been no Duntov there’d have been no Corvette racing. Like I wrote yesterday in the post about The Registry of Corvette Race Cars, had it not been for racing, the Corvette never would have survived into the ‘70s.

So not only does Duntov live on in our memories, he’s on Facebook and YouTube too! – Scott

PS – One of our other websites is www.GrandSportCorvetteLegend.com. There’s a Duntov tribute page that you can check out HERE.

To read Wikipedia’s Zora Arkus-Duntov page, CLICK HERE.

To visit Bentley Publishing’s Facebook page for Zora Arkus-Duntov, CLICK HERE.

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